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with sentiments so cruel, and can you give them admission into your bosom?
With regard to the books of the Abbé de la Roche, and that other savant,* whose speech at the Academy we just now read as it wrapped up a calf's lights which you had the goodness to give us; with regard to their books, we ask, where is the great harm if they are sometimes gnawed a little by the mice? Of what use to them is all their reading? Since they have lived with you, must they not be fully convinced of the inutility of all knowledge? They see you good without the assistance of Treatises upon Morals; charming in your manners without having read our historiographer Moncrief's Art of Pleasing; and happy without being acquainted with the Treatise on Happiness, by the unfortunate Maupertuis. While they are the daily witnesses of your profound ignorance, they, who know so many things, are wholly unacquainted with the art you know so well, — of being able to dispense with knowing any thing. Your orthography is not much better than ours, and your writing is very like the scratching of a cat's paw. You totally mistake the way to spell happiness, but you enjoy the thing without knowing how it should be written ; that happiness, in short, which they cannot draw from their books, you shed around them from the eminence of your ignorance. The mice cannot, therefore, as we have proved, do them any great injury. As to the slippers of Mademoiselle Luillier, if she would only creep on at a somewhat less drawling pace, the mice would not be able to get at them; and it is strange that you would condemn us to death because your waiting-maid moves only a
But these reasons, strong as they are, are not the only ones which may excuse us towards you for the spoliations committed in your house by the mice. Ah! most illustrious Lady, with what conscience can we be reproached for not catching them, when you have constantly about you two large dogs thirsting for our blood, who will not permit us to approach your beloved person, as duty and gratitude would lead us to do? Two dogs! this is saying enough ; they are animals brought up in the utmost hatred of our species; their barking always fills us with terror. How can any one be so unjust as to reproach us with keeping at a distance from places where animals thus ferocious, whom nature has inspired with such aversion to us, and such power to destroy us, reign uncontrolled ? Nay, farther, if the question were only of French dogs, there might be hopes that their hatred would not be so active, that their ferocity would not be
* The Abbé Morellet.
so alarming; but you must needs take into your service (in contempt of the wise decrees of the comptroller-general) a bull-dog which you have imported from England, who hates us doubly; in the first place, as cats, and still more ardently as French cats. We see daily before our eyes the cruel effects of his rage in the shortened tail of our brother Le Noir. Our zeal to serve you, united with the natural taste we have for mice, would lead us to form .hunting-parties in your apartments, if we were not banished by these formidable enemies, whom you have made masters of them. Let us no longer, therefore, be reproached with the disorders committed against you by the mice, since we are deprived of the possibility of repressing them.
Alas! those happy times are no more, when that illustrious cat Pompon reigned in these places, slept in your lap, and reposed upon your couch! when that Zemira,* who now so eagerly endeavours to procure our downfall, humbly paid his court to the favorite whose situation he now occupies. Then could we parade about the house with our tails in the air; the late M. Pompon would sometimes condescend to share with us the rabbits graciously sent him by His Majesty from his shooting-parties; and under the protection of this illustrious favorite we enjoyed peace and happiness. Those happy times, we must repeat, are, alas! no more ; we live under the reign of a dog; sunk in deep and lasting regrets for the car, beneath whose empire such enjoyments were ours, while our only consolation is to go every night, and water with our tears the cypress which shadows his tomb !
Ah, most illustrious Lady! let the memory of the cat you so much loved, inspire you at least with some compassion towards us. We are not indeed of his race, since he was devoted to chastity from his youth; but we are of his species. His manes, still wandering
. about this spot, call upon you to revoke the sanguinary order which menaces our days; and all those which you preserve to us shall be consecrated to mewing forth our lasting gratitude, while the beneficent act shall be handed down by us to our children's children. +
* A little dog.
+ In this article, and in the others under the head of BAGATELLES, both the French and the translations are printed as they stand in W. T. Franklin's edition. – EDITOR.
À MONSIEUR L'ABBÉ DE LA ROCHE, À AUTEUIL.
J'ai parcouru, mon cher ami, le petit livre de poésies de M. Helvétius, dont vous m'avez fait cadeau. Le poëme sur le Bonheur m'a donné beaucoup de plaisir, et m'a fait ressouvenir d'une petite chanson à boire, que j'ai faite il y a quarante ans sur le même sujet, et qui avoit à-peu-près le même plan, et plusieurs des mêmes pensées, mais bien densement exprimées. La voici.
Oh! no !
Then toss off your glasses, and scorn the dull asses,
That's true ;
C'est un chanteur, mon cher Abbé, qui exhorte ses compagnons de chercher le bonheur dans l'amour, dans les richesses, et dans le pouvoir. Ils répliquent, chantant ensemble, que le bonheur ne se trouve pas en aucunes de ces choses, et qu'on ne le trouve que dans les amis et le vin. A cette position, le chanteur enfin consent. La phrase “bear the bell,” signifie en François remporter le prix.
J'ai souvent remarqué, en lisant les ouvrages de M. Helvétius, que quoique nous étions nés et élevés dans deux pays si éloignés l'un de l'autre, nous nous sommes rencontrés souvent dans les mêmes pensées; et c'est une réflexion bien flatteuse pour moi, que nous avons aimé les mêmes études, et autant que nous les avions connus, les mêmes amis, * et la même femme.t
Adieu ! mon cher ami, &c. B. F.
* Messrs. Voltaire, Hume, Turgot, Marmontel, d'Holbach, Le Roy, les Abbés Morellet et La Roche, &c. &c. — W. T. F.
+ Madame Helvétius.
TO THE ABBÉ DE LA ROCHE, AT AUTEUIL.
I HAVE run over, my dear friend, the little book of poetry, by M. Helvetius, with which you presented me. The poem on Happiness pleased me much, and brought to my recollection a little drinking song, which I wrote forty years ago upon the same subject, and which is nearly on the same plan, with many of the same thoughts, but very concisely expressed. It is as follows.
Fair Venus calls, &c. 'Tis a singer, my dear Abbé, who exhorts his companions to seek happiness in love, in riches, and in power. They reply,
. singing together, that happiness is not to be found in any of these things; that it is only to be found in friends and wine. To this proposition the singer at length assents. The phrase "bear the bell,” answers to the French expression, “obtain the prize.”
I have often remarked, in reading the works of M. Helvetius, that, although we were born and educated in two countries so remote from each other, we have often been inspired with the same thoughts; and it is a reflection very flattering to me, that we have not only loved the same studies, but, as far as we have mutually known them, the same friends, and the same woman. Adieu! my dear friend, &c.
À MONSIEUR L'ABBÉ MORELLET.
Passy, le Vous m'avez souvent égayé, mon très-cher ami, par vos excellentes chansons à boire; en échange, je désire vous édifier par quelques réflexions Chrétiennes, morales et philosophiques, sur le même sujet.
In vino veritas, dit le sage. La vérité est dans le vin. Avant Noé donc, les hommes, n'ayant que de l'eau à